Archive for the ‘effectual calling’ Category

Eye witness testimony rejected

April 2, 2013

The beginning of knowledge for the ghetto, and the clinching news for Oskar, was the return to Cracow—eight days after he’d been shipped off from Prokocim—of the young pharmacist Bachner. No one knew how he had got back inside the ghetto, or the mystery of why he returned to a place from which the SS would simply send him off on another journey. But it was, of course, the pull of the known that brought Bachner home.
All the way down Lwowska and into the streets behind Plac Zgody he carried his story. He had seen the final horror, he said. He was mad-eyed, and in his brief absence his hair had silvered. All the Cracow people who had been rounded up in early June had been taken nearly to Russia, he said, to the camp of Belzec. When the trains arrived at the railway station, the people were driven out by Ukrainians with clubs. There was a frightful stench about the place, but an SS man had kindly told people that that was due to the use of disinfectant. The people were lined up in front of two large warehouses, one marked “CLOAK ROOM” and the other “VALUABLES.” The new arrivals were made to undress, and a small Jewish boy passed among the crowd handing out lengths of string with which to tie their shoes together. Spectacles and rings were removed. So, naked, the prisoners had their heads shaved in the hairdresser’s, an SS NCO telling them that their hair was needed to make something special for U-boat crews. It would grow again, he said, maintaining the myth of their continued usefulness. At last the victims were driven down a barbed-wire passage to bunkers which had copper Stars of David on their
and were labeled BATHS AND INHALATION ROOMS. SS men reassured them all the way, telling them to breathe deeply, that it was an excellent means of disinfection.
Bachner saw a little girl drop a bracelet on the ground, and a boy of three picked it up and went into the bunker playing with it. In the bunkers, said Bachner, they were all gassed. And afterward, squads were sent in to disentangle the pyramid of corpses and take the bodies away for burial. It had taken barely two days, he said, before they were all dead, except for him. While waiting in an enclosure for his turn, he’d somehow got to a latrine and lowered himself into the pit. He’d stayed there three days, the human waste up to his neck. His face, he said, had been a hive of flies. He’d slept standing, wedged in the hole for fear of drowning there. At last he’d crawled out at night.
Somehow he’d walked out of Belzec, following the railway tracks. Everyone understood that he had got out precisely because he was beyond reason. Likewise, he’d been cleaned by someone’s hand—a peasant woman’s, perhaps—and put into fresh clothes for his journey back to the starting point. Even then there were people in Cracow who thought Bachner’s story a dangerous rumor. Postcards had come to relatives from prisoners in Auschwitz. So if it was true of Belzec, it couldn’t be true of Auschwitz. And was it credible? On the short emotional rations of the ghetto, one got by through sticking to the credible. The chambers of Belzec, Schindler found out from his sources, had been completed by March of that year under the supervision of a Hamburg engineering firm and of SS engineers from Oranienburg. From Bachner’s testimony, it seemed that 3,000 killings a day were not beyond their capacity.

Thomas Keneally, Schindler’s Ark, 150

Everthing Bachner said was true. Bachner was an eyewitness. But he wasn’t believed. He wasn’t believed because people didn’t want to believe him.

People do not believe in line with the facts. People believe what is conventional, easy, agreeable to one’s own self perception and, whereever possible, without personal cost.

People cannot be argued into the kingdom of God by human reasoning and gentle persuasion. God must confront sinful man and break the fetters that bind him to falsehood. Only the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit can change a heart of stone.